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Mass Customization Overview for Unlimited versions

Mass Customization can easily build many product versions and  options, with all built to-order on-demand in any quantity in the same flexible manufacturing facility

In general, dozens to thousands of SKUs (product variations) can be build on-demand in any quantities at low cost, including orders for many niche markets, country variations, or mass-customized for individual customers. The Mass-Customization article on this site presents illustrated examples of how this can be done for electronic products (Figure 1) and fabricated products (Figure 2).

Both figures include manual assembly cells (in the lower right) that shows how mass customization can be accomplished by manual assembly, not always needing automation as many writers assume. In the BTO & Mass Customization book, these figures and descriptions are presented in Chapter 8.

For a 67 page Executive summary of the whole book, read Chapter 1 of the book “Build-to-Order & Mass Customization.” (shown at right). Dr. Anderson presents seminars and workshops customized for specific companies on all implementation strategies.

The  following  text presents far fewer versions, starting with one (Mass Production) and hen few versions with  large tooling components


One-size-fits-all (Mass Production)

Mass production thrived in the bygone era of stable demand little product variety and no serious competition. At its peak, the "any-color-as-long-as-it’s-black" Model T Ford had a 57% market share. Despite its very low price of $245.  However, it was pulled off its pedestal when upstart General Motors offered variety such as color paint and other options. Ford was slow to respond, mostly because mass production’s keys to its success -- hard tooling, labor specialization, and economies of scale – prevented it from offering variety or adapting quickly to emerging trends.

The paradigm is now shifting from Mass Production to Mass Customization.


Designing Versatile Products

On the design side, multiple product geometries could be laid out in the same  Computer-Aided-Design models, simply by "stretching" the same parts for the other version (called parametric CAD). Then, the thicknesses or strengths of different parts would designed for their unique loads. The product architecture would be optimized with standard portions which would be seamlessly integrated with all variable versions.
       This would not be limited to bolt-on modules that have heavy interfaces. Rather, flexible processing could enable a monolithic structure of either version.  See the other Management Overview about Flexible/Cellular  Manufacturing.


Versatility Takes No More Design Effort

In the long run, it will require no more design effort to design multiple versions up-front than it would design one and then the other(s) later.

In fact, the overall effort would be more efficient with the same team and be better optimized as would be the interfaces with the common section. 

 Further, the white paper, "Concurrent Engineering For Challenging Products  shows that thorough up-front work cuts product development resource demands in half!


Versatility Takes No More Calendar Time

 The time elapsed time to design multiple versions would not be any more if the design team was also trained on "Design for Manufacturability & Concurrent Engineering,," which ensures that the time-to-stable-production (the only "time to market" that matters) is finished in half the time, as shown in the article: http://www.design4manufacturability.com/half-the-time.htm  because of more thorough up-front work and better optimized architecture.


Designing and Building  Versatile Tooling and Fixturing

On the manufacturing side
, versatile fixtures and other processes could be concurrently engineered to accommodate multiple versions without any changeover delays.  This would be accomplished by Flexible Manufacture as discussed at: http://www.build-to-order-consulting.com/flex-mfg.htm   These techniques would manufacture different parts for each version on-demand.


Cutting Tooling Expense

Combining "n"  tooling versions to one versatile design would cut tooling design and the "tooling" to make the tolling by "n" times!


Eliminating Change-over delays and Cost

 Further, if multiple sets of different tooling try to share the same plant, each change-over could delay production and all this would all this would add the following costs over the mass-customized model because too sets of mass production tooling would:

  • would need more factory space
  • need material handing  equipment to move heavy tooling, and
  • need extra labor to do the change-overs every time production changed

The very first step may be to start with a few hours of the DFM thought-leader to help formulate strategies and implementation planning.  See his consulting page:  http://design4manufacturability.com/Consulting.htm


For a year, Dr. Anderson taught the Product Development course at the Haas Graduate  Business School at the University of California at Berkeley.


Send a summary of this web page to your colleagues and managers:


Subject:  Web article Management Overview of Mass Customization

to: All:

I just found an Executive Overview* of Mass Customization

This starts with the general case with no limits on variety with links to a web site that has factory perspective layouts, one for electronics and another for fabricated products.  Managers are referred to the first 67 pages of the author's BTO & Mass Customization book, which summarized the 550 page book

The  rest of the page addresses mass customizing with much less product variety with significant tooling and factory challenges , with particular  attention to the conundrums that that occur when variety is very low and tooling and factory challenges  are very high, pointing out how properly applied Mass Customization principles can help.

Please send this around to all those who may benefit.

* That article is at  www.build-to-order-consulting.com/overview.htm/


To discuss  Mass Customization, send phone or emailbelow:

I am interested custom remote BTO* webinars or workshops on Build-to-Order & Mass Customization.*

I am interested custom remote DFM** webinars or workshops on Design for Manufacturability.**

Please notify me of any future public seminars or webinars on Build-to-Order & Mass Customization

        * To preview principles of BTO & Mass Customization, read the the 510 page book with the a 60 page Exec Summary
      **  To preview principles of DFM & Concurrent Engineering, read the definitive work on the subject





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The author of this article, Dr. David M. Anderson, can be reached at 805-924-0100 or anderson@build-to-order-consulting.com 
He has published dozens of articles that are posted at www.design4manufacturability.com , www.HalfCostProducts.com, and www.build-to-order-consulting.com

Copyright © 2022 by Dr. David M. Anderson, P.E.

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